Constantine and the Bishops

Constantine and the Bishops : The Politics of Intolerance

By (author) H. A. Drake

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Historians who viewed imperial Rome in terms of a conflict between pagans and Christians have often regarded the emperor Constantine's conversion as the triumph of Christianity over paganism. This study takes a fresh look at Constantine's rule uncovering the political motivations behind his policies. Constantine, H.A. Drake suggests, was looking not only for a god in whom to believe, but also a policy he could adopt. Drake shows how these policies were constructed to ensure the stability of the empire and fulfill Constantine's imperial duty in securing the favour of heaven. Despite the emperor's conversion to Christianity, Drake concludes, Rome remained a world filled with gods and with men seeking to depose rivals from power. He shows how Christian belief motivated and gave shape to imperial rule.

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  • Hardback | 640 pages
  • 222.5 x 223 x 42.7mm | 870.91g
  • 14 Jan 2000
  • JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Baltimore, MD
  • English
  • 0801862183
  • 9780801862182

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Author Information

H. A. Drake is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Review quote

"A refreshingly original and powerfully argued re-conception of the issues and the forces at work in this period of the conversion not of Constantine, but of Christianity... With laser-keen insight, bold thinking, and also a large measure of wry humor, Drake has presented a plausible and powerful interpretation of this formative moment in Western history... A riveting story, and masterfully told. Anyone who rejoices in our Founding Fathers' constitutional conviction that church must be kept separate from state will read Constantine and the Bishops with deepest appreciation; and perhaps those who long for the opposite should read it, too. The lessons of late antiquity remain pertinent, alas, to the politics of religion in our own day." -- Paula Fredriksen, New Republic

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